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Understanding How Children Develop Pro-Social Behavior

Last updated 1 year ago

Young children learn social skills from interactions with others in their child care or pre-kindergarten program. Gradually, your child will develop pro-social behavior, which refers to any action or response for the purpose of another person’s benefit. Empathy, sympathy, and altruism are all part of pro-social behavior. By nurturing ideal behavior in your child, you can help him or her engage in positive interactions.

Pro-Social Behavior Development Theories

There are two main theories of pro-social behavior development in children. The first is neurological in nature. The regions of the brain that become stimulated when a person is rewarded are also stimulated when that person performs an altruistic act. These areas of the brain, called dopaminergic centers, encourage the formation of habits. If your child shares a toy with another child at a daycare center, he or she will be motivated to do it again because it feels good to share. The second main theory is social cognition, which refers to your child’s ability to sense the needs and wants of other people. Perceiving another person’s emotions is the first step in engaging in altruistic behavior toward that person.

Parental Modeling of Ideal Behaviors

Children learn pro-social behaviors from their environments, including their daycare centers and homes. Parental modeling of pro-social behaviors is critical for habit formation. When your child stubs a toe, for example, you comfort him or her with a hug and positive words. Encourage your child to do similar actions for other people by explaining the feelings of others. For example, point out that Sarah is crying because she wants a turn on the slide and suggest to your child that he or she offers Sarah a turn.

Creation of Positive Verbal Environments

Another component of pro-social behavior development is your child’s own sense of self. Nurture your child’s self-perception by creating positive verbal environments. Interactions with a child should promote self-value for that child. Encouraging positive feelings in your child will help him or her feel the same about others.

The educators of A Child’s World strive to nurture each child’s empathy and social behavior skills. Call us today at (888) 861-7857 to learn more about our daycare centers and pre-kindergarten programs. We are conveniently located in Doylestown, PA.


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